What did it feel like to come back and play on the Dean Dome floor in an official game again?
It was great. You never lose the feeling of the floor out there. It felt good running up and down, soft rims. It brought back a lot of memories, but it was fun. We didn't win, but it was good.
You got to go against Shelden [Williams] again, some more familiarity. What was that like? Were you all talking out there?
Yeah, but it's different now; it's not the same as in college. We've been good friends all through college. It's preseason, and we were out there having a good time, competing. It was fun, again, as well.
What did you talk to Marvin about before the game?
I just told him that the situation sucks for him and to keep his head up. In four to six weeks everything will be fine. It's sad that it happened a week before the season opened, but he is smart and he'll bounce back.
You had a productive game tonight. You had 12 points, leading the team. How confident do you feel going into the season now?
I feel good. I feel like I played pretty well during the preseason. I shot the ball pretty well. I still have a lot that I can work on, but I feel like my role is starting to be defined coming off the bench and providing a spark, so I felt pretty good about that.
How do you think that the team has been playing overall?
We played well. We are 2-6 in the preseason, but we are just trying to get better each and every game. When we start paying attention to detail and really throwing the scouting reports in the [previous two games] we played really well. Today, I think we just didn't want to get anybody hurt right before the season. I think, overall, we've done a good job this preseason, and everybody is going out pretty confident.
You were back this summer taking classes. How much did Coach Williams talk to you about hat before you left, and how much of an emphasis was it?
Coach made me promise him that I was going to come back. If I left early, I was going to come back and finish school. He didn't care when. He just felt I needed to do that. I felt before I get away for too long--it would be harder the longer I'm away, so I just went ahead and just knocked it out this summer, and I'll do it again next summer.
Do you keep up with how Rashad [McCants] or Raymond [Felton] or Marvin are doing?
I know Ray took some or he's going to take some classes. Marvin was here with me so I know he took classes, and I'm not sure about Rashad.
How much of it is a program thing? You look back and saw [Michael Jordan] did it, and there were other guys coming back?
Yeah, you know [Jerry] Stack[house] did it, Antawn [Jamison] did it, Vince [Carter] did it. They set a good example for you, so for us we all want to do the same thing--set examples for the guys that are here now.
You guys focus on academics from the time you get here. Is that something that is really hammered in by Coach Williams, Coach Smith, those guys?
It's all the way down from Coach Williams to all the people who help the basketball program, [like] the tutors. They want you to finish school. They put you in a position that if you leave [early for the NBA] you are still able to finish school. That's why we come during the summer, that's why we are here to take some of that burden off.
How impressive is it that Marvin is doing it even though he still has three years?
He's a better man than [I]. Ninety-some hours--I don't know if I could get that done.
Carolina fans are always interested in the basketball team. They want to know more, more, more. The freshman class is always a topic of discussion. You had a chance to play against this freshman class. Give me a brief scouting report.
They are good. Tywon Lawson can do a lot with the basketball, smart player, quick like Ray was. Wayne Ellington is smooth, can flat out shoot it. He reminds me of a Rashad, similar to our class. The kid can play. He's going to be a pro some day. Brandan Wright is long, everybody knows about him--can defend a lot of people, clean the backboard. Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson--it's going to take them longer, but they are both really good. Alex has got a great body; he's going to help Tyler bang down low. I think Deon is more polished in the post. They are all good. The thing about it is they are still freshmen, so it may take them awhile--it may not. The freshman class before, it didn't take them that long. It remains to be seen.
Tell me your thoughts about having this game scheduled special for you to come back and play against Raymond and Sean in the Dean Dome and not being able to play.
It's disappointing. Everybody worked so hard to try to get this game scheduled, and unfortunately I ended up breaking my hand. But stuff like that happens. Hopefully, we can do it again.
Tell me how you broke it.
Just trying to play defense, swiping at the ball.
You just got it tangled up?
I saw you were icing it. Is that something you have to do regularly?
My hand just kind of swelled up on me, so I just iced it. It felt better when I put some ice on it.
I saw you talking with Sean and Raymond before the game. What were you laughing and smiling about?
Tomorrow, actually. I was asking those guys what they are doing tomorrow. I was going to give them a call tonight and see. Sean was talking about how he'll be asleep.
How much do you all keep in touch even when you are not playing games face-to-face?
All the time. We talk two or three times a week.
What kind of things do you talk about?
How we feel, what's going on, who you've talked to, who haven't you talked to, regular stuff.
Now that you've been through an NBA season, what do you know this year that you didn't know this time last year?
A whole lot more--just how the NBA game his, how the lifestyle is. Those are the two biggest things I had to adjust to last year.
Will you follow this Carolina team this year?
Oh, no question. I followed them last year. I have a lot of broken items in my house because of these guys last year.
Have you had a chance to play against any of the new guys that are on the team?
Oh yeah, this summer. They were here for summer school, and I was here for summer school.
What can you share, having played with those guys, with UNC fans?
They'll be good. They'll be very good.
Who surprised you the most?
Probably Wayne [Ellington]. I think Wayne is really good right now.
What really stood out about him?
He can score it. He plays hard--they all play hard--but Wayne can really score.
What was it like coming back here? I noticed you looking up at the banners a few times, noticing the national championship. How good did that feel?
It feels good, [but] I was kind of checking out the new seats in the arena, actually. I was checking out the new TV's too in the corners. That's what I was looking at.